It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for Sea Babies by Tracey Scott-Townsend, published by Wild Pressed Books on 21st February, available for kindle, with the paperback to follow on 1st May. My thanks to Kelly of #LoveBooksGroupTours for the invitation and support. I’m sorry I don’t have a review to share with you today – Tracey very kindly sent me a proof copy of this book some time ago, and I’d already planned to read and review it next month. I can tell you though that the cover looks even more stunning in the hand, and I’m really looking forward to discovering her writing.
In September 2016, Lauren Wilson is travelling by ferry to the Outer Hebrides, about to begin a new job as a children’s social worker. She’s also struggling to come to terms with the recent drowning of a Sheena, a teenage girl she had deeply cared for.
Engrossed in her book, when somebody sits opposite her at a table on the ferry, Lauren refuses to look up, annoyed at having her privacy disturbed. But a hand is pushing a mug of tea across the table, and a livid scar on the back of the hand releases a flood of memories.
Lauren studies the hand on the table in front of her, the line of the scar drawing a map of the past in her mind. She was the one who created the scar, not long before her relationship with the love of her life ended almost thirty years ago. Lauren hasn’t seen Neil since she walked out of their shared life, unable to forgive either herself or him for a decision he strongly pressured her to make.
She’s not ready to meet his eyes, not yet. From his scar to his wrist bone, following his arm upwards and across his shoulder to his collarbone, his chin and the lower part of his face; Lauren remembers incidents from their past and tries to work out what caused their life to go so horribly off-track.
When she finally meets his eyes and they speak to each other for the first time, Lauren believes she has set her life on a new course. But her gain will result in losses for others. Is this really what she wants to happen?
I’m delighted to be able to share an extract:
Do I notice the pulse at your throat quickening, or have I imagined it? Perhaps it’s simply that it pleases me to think your heart has speeded up because we’ll be working in close proximity. I want to deflect your questions, I need more time to take you in. So I keep my answer vague.
‘Around the island. All of the Western Isles, in fact.’
My home will be in a district called Uig, although the office is indeed in Stornoway. I wanted an isolated location. I won’t need to go into the office every day anyway.
Your eyes smile at me.
‘You haven’t changed, Lauren. I recognised you straight away.’
I understand how you can see the past in me. I too feel comfortable sitting here with you. The same you, despite the grey stubble on your cheeks and the delicate pouching around your eyes, the enlarged freckles on the backs of your hands. To my eyes you haven’t changed, either.
I want to ask so many things about the past; what you did after I left. Whether you missed me and for how long. I want to tell you about Dublin and Reykjavik and my return to Edinburgh, about the stint I did working with young people at the refugee camp in Calais, how it made me want to move on from Edinburgh because there are young people living in so many different kinds of situations in different places, and I want to know all about them.
Most of all I want to tell you about Sheena. I would describe one of the many funny things about her, like how she could do a perfect impersonation of the First Minister.
But I don’t. A klaxon blares, startling both of us and making me put my hands over my ears.
‘You never liked loud noises.’
‘I still don’t.’
‘Bonfire nights were the worst. And the Edinburgh Tattoo, the very worst.’
‘Not to mention the beginning of the festivals. Ocht. Those fireworks. One year you gave me a mild sedative, remember?’
‘Ya wee sook,’ creeps from your throat. Tears threaten me again and I blink hard. Silly old woman. A wee sook, indeed.
Very much like the look of that – join me again in a month or so for a full review. Meanwhile, you might like to follow the other stops on the blog tour:
About the author
Tracey is a visual artist who began to write full-time in 2010. Her novels are about family relationships, a sense of place, sexual love and motherhood, the lynchpins of human emotion.
She is the author of The Last Time We Saw Marion, Of His Bones, The Eliza Doll and Another Rebecca. Her fifth novel, Sea Babies was released on 21st February. Her poetry collection, So Fast was published in January 2018.
Tracey is the mother of four grown-up children and now spends a lot of time travelling in a small camper van with husband Phil and their rescue dogs, Pixie and Luna, gathering her thoughts and writing them down.